Thursday, February 24, 2022

Zoning proposal to make outdoor dining permanent heads to City Council today

The summer of 2020 on Seventh Street

Today, the proposal to remake outdoor dining in NYC heads to a full City Council vote. 

Last Thursday, the Council's Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises and the Committee on Land Use voted to recommend the approval of a zoning proposal, which is a first step in creating a permanent outdoor dining program. 

City Council will be voting on this same resolution today.

All this follows the Council's lone public hearing on the proposal, a contentious 9-hour marathon featuring 250 people testifying for or against the program on Feb. 8. 

One takeaway from that, per published reports: Julie Schipper, head of the Department of Transportation's Open Restaurants Program, told City Council that the dining structures erected in the summer of 2020 won't be allowed to remain standing under the new guidelines. 

"We don't envision sheds in the permanent program. We are not planning for that," Schipper said. "What would be in the roadway [are] barriers and tents or umbrellas, but not these full houses that you're seeing in the street." 

This CityLand post outlines what needs to happen... 
To establish a permanent open restaurants program, several legislative and administrative changes would need to occur. First, a zoning text amendment that eliminates certain restrictions on where sidewalk cafes can be located needs to be approved. Last November, the City Planning Commission voted to approve this text amendment, and now the amendment needs the approval of the City Council. 

Next, the City Council would need to pass legislation that would repeal the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection’s authority over sidewalk cafes and authorize the Department of Transportation to establish a permanent program. 
Once the City Council approves the program, the Department of Transportation and other relevant agencies would need to establish administrative rules about the program, which would also be subject to a public comment process. 
But, as The Village Sun reported last Friday, the Land Use Committee "voted to 'modify' the bill ... by removing the DOT as the lead agency." 
However, this does not necessarily mean the DOT is out of the picture for good. Basically, moving forward, as part of the process of creating the new law, Velazquez and fellow councilmembers will now be deciding whether D.O.T. should continue to run the program or whether the job should be handed off to another agency. 
This Gothamist piece from Feb. 15 has more on the design of future outdoor spaces. 

City officials have said they hope to have a permanent program to begin in 2023.

As The Sun pointed out: "Basically, a lot is currently in the works and still unsettled."

Lady Wong brings the desserts of Southeast Asia to 9th Street

Photos by Stacie Joy

Lady Wong, a Nanyang-inspired pastry shop, had its soft opening on Tuesday at 332 E. Ninth St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue...
Lady Wong owners Seleste Tan and her husband Mogan Anthony (top pic) are from Malaysia, and spent time in Singapore and NYC working in the kitchens of several restaurants and hotels. They started this business about a year ago, selling online and at various pop-up events before opening their own place. 

Based on the number of people waiting to enter the shop specializing in desserts from Southeast Asia, they already have a strong following... 
You can check out their website here to see a rundown of the shop's kuih and pastries. They also serve coffee from Coffee Project NY

Posted hours, for now, are noon-6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.  

Ralph's returns on Avenue A

Photos by Steven 

After a winter hiatus, the Ralph's Famous Italian Ices (& Ice Cream!) outpost reopens today on the NW corner of Avenue and Ninth Street.  

Workers were spotted stocking up the storefront yesterday...
Ralph's debuted in the East Village in September 2020

The shop's hours: 2-10 p.m. daily.

As previously noted, the business dates to 1928, when Ralph Silvestro started selling Italian ice (or water ice) from his truck around Staten Island. The first retail store opened in 1949 on Port Richmond Avenue in Staten Island. 

The company has franchised out in recent years, expanding to other parts of the NYC metropolitan area and Long Island.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Reports of suspicious fires this afternoon in Stuy Town

This afternoon, we received multiple reader reports of several small fires around Stuy Town, two of which destroyed golf maintenance carts on the property. 

ABC 7 reported these fires as being "suspicious" in nature. (The third fire was in a trash can near the Walgreens on First Avenue between 17th Street and 18th Street.) 

More than 60 firefighters responded to the scene. Stuy Town management released this statement:
"We can confirm that three fires occurred here this afternoon. Thankfully, no people were harmed, and no major building damage occurred. We are grateful to the FDNY for their fast response and support. Our team is assisting them with their ongoing investigation."

A visit to June First Skincare

Text and photos by Stacie Joy 

The first two months of a new year traditionally finds a focus on health resolutions and goals. 

So in early 2022, I looked at a (new to me) wellness practice of the buccal or intra-oral massage. I dropped by esthetician June Xie’s new spa, June First Skincare, at 76 E. Seventh St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue to learn more about this practice and see it performed on Lana Rad.
After observing the unusual massage and the subsequent facial skincare routine, I talked with June about the challenges of opening a personal skincare spa during a pandemic, the intra-oral massage, and her love for the East Village, where she both lives and works. 

How did June First Skin come to be? When did you open?

First Skin was born in November 2021. I saw a cute spot open down the street from my apartment, and I knew it was time. 

But the beginning of this story goes much further back. I attended [CUNY’s] Queens College and majored in accounting because everyone advised me that finance is where the money is. I got a job as an accountant and for several years huddled myself into a cubicle, stressed out and eating bad food, doing a job I didn’t love. 

One day, I looked in the mirror, figuratively and literally, and decided this wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. I quit my job and used my savings to attend Christine Valmy School for Esthetics. I learned skincare by day, and by night I read every dermatology book I could find, devouring as much information as possible. I graduated top of my class and got a job at the famous Christine Chin Spa, esthetician to the stars. 

While training under Christine Chin (also known as the “Mean Christine” the Extraction Queen), I worked with several celebrity figures, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Padma Lakshmi and Queen Rania Jordan. 

After that, I took a job at Glow Bar. Once I felt that my skills and product knowledge were where I wanted them to be, it was just a matter of finding the right location! 

Why choose the East Village for your spa? 

It is a dream come true to have my business in the East Village, one of my favorite neighborhoods in NYC! I live here and I love being in such a vibrant neighborhood. 
Talk about the buccal massage.

It’s a treatment that requires the technician to wear gloves and insert fingers inside the mouth to maneuver the delicate muscle from inside out. It feels like an adventure and, at the same time, is deeply releasing and relaxing. 

Many people are skeptical at first, but it can be a mind-blowing experience because the procedure works on rarely stimulated muscles. This maneuver is highly sought-after throughout most of Asia, and I learned this technique from an international master. 

What would you tell people who have never experienced an intra-oral massage before? 

I say try it at least once in your lifetime; it doesn’t hurt, and most likely, you will love it!
What has operating a personal-care spa been like during the pandemic? 

It is challenging, especially for a new spa. People are afraid of being in close proximity to their service provider, so they usually put off getting facials during this time. I am vaccinated and have the ventilation on and disinfect after every client to ensure the place is as safe as possible. 

What are your plans for the year ahead? 

Lately, I have been delving into the world of energy work and hypnosis. I am exploring those areas and I plan to create a few unique services on my menu that incorporate energy work into my facials. I think that is an exciting project for the new year.

You can keep up with the salon on Instagram.

Rowdy Rooster debuts on 1st Avenue

Yesterday saw the debut of Rowdy Rooster, the new quick-serve establishment at 149 First Ave. between Ninth Street and 10th Street from restaurateurs Roni Mazumdar and Chintan Pandya. 

Here, Pandya "is proudly bringing to NYC the types of spices he has experienced in fried chicken on street carts in India," per its Instagram account. 

The shop is open now for takeout and limited indoor dining. Delivery is coming soon. They are open Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 10 p.m. Check out the menu here. (And find a Rowdy Rooster preview article at Eater via this link.)

The restaurateurs, who also operate Adda and Dhamaka, have big designs on fast-casual Indian food. They plan on opening Kebabwala, which will focus on classic kebab preparations, this year at 82 Second Ave. between Fourth Street and Fifth Street. (More details here.) 

Last April, Mazumdar and Pandya decided not to renew the lease for the Masalawala, bringing an end to its 10-year run just below Houston at 179 Essex St.

Post now includes an updated photo of the exterior via Steven 

Blick makes it signage official on 4th Avenue

The coming-soon signs are up now for Blick at 111 Fourth Ave. (Thanks, Jeanne Krier, for this photo!

We noted this pending arrival back in August... as the Blick Art Materials outpost on 13th Street between University and Fifth Avenue is relocating here between 11th Street and 12th Street. Signage points to a summer debut here.

Until early 2019, this storefront was home to Jerry's New York Central.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Tuesday's parting shot

Photo by Steven 

A moment with Vera Balyura outside the now-closed Verameat today at 315 Ninth St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue.

As previously reported, the lease was up on the designer jewelry shop, and Balyura decided to close up her storefront here and in Brooklyn. Her online business will live on... find updates on Instagram.

A visit to CLLCTV.NYC

Text and photos by Stacie Joy 

I’m meeting with the CLLCTV.NYC (pronounced “collective dot NYC”) team behind the new flex space for events, art shows and pop-ups at 209 E. Third St. between Avenue B and Avenue C.

Edward Rivera, Johanna Vizueta, Amir Hoskins and Kelly J. Glusovich are preparing the space to receive visitors for the Danny Cortes show, Big Time Miniatures, a nostalgic look at quotidian old-school NYC locations and objects.
Cortes and Rivera...
Fire hydrants, ice machines, dumpsters, mailboxes, bodegas and stoops all factor heavily into the miniatures hand-crafted by the artist. Since there is a line forming outside of folks waiting to get in, I try to grab a few minutes with Edward Rivera to talk about the space, the collective and the show.

How did the idea of the collective come about? What prompted you to select the space it’s in? 

As with all of our decisions, we came upon the name as we are a collective. We aspire to weave art, education and community into our work — collectively. 

Why is staying in the East Village/Lower East Side so important to you?

Three of the partners have deep roots in the LES. It ain’t hard to tell. We all very much respect and move fluidly throughout the LES with our own individual networks that combine (of course) to be yet another collective effort. 

Was this the first show you featured? 

Our first show effort was for our partner Kelly’s brand It served as much as a dress rehearsal as a pop-up and an opportunity to touch the community with far more than a retail event. 

As with many events we develop, we do a community-based Q&A during the show about the work and the artist/designer. We enjoyed a big success and turnout even though we were only 70% operational in November 2021. 

How did your collaboration with Danny Cortes come together? 

We approached Danny to do a show because his work is super dope, which is our lane of content and that which we wish to display, develop, and help blow up. We put him on our “hit list” and forwarded him a proposal regarding our abilities and future plans. He took our meeting, and the vibe was cosmic and well communicated from start to finish. 

How was the opening weekend of the Big Time Miniatures show? 

Big Time Miniatures was nuts! Danny’s VIP reception was packed and we saw better numbers each night. Individuals in attendance are not into identification as they honor a different code, which we respect, so name dropping is nil. We credit our individual networks’ ability to cross-pollinate, as we don’t rely on formal advertising and promotions.
You decided to extend the show? What are the dates and hours that it’s open to the public? 

We decided to open Tuesday and Wednesday (Feb. 22 and 23, from 1-8 p.m.) as Danny and the CLLCTV saw fit to offer additional hours. Info will be posted to our Instagram

What’s next for the space? 

Wish we felt like discussing it, but talent and entities we work with agree with our preference to remain mum until 4 to 5 weeks from any given event date, though our planning process is an intensive 8- to 10-week journey. We turn our modest 1,100-square-foot space into the world of the artist or entity, and we do it respectively; collectively.

Cleaning out and preparing to rebuild Essex Card Shop on Avenue A

Workers began cleaning out the fire-damaged Essex Card Shop late last week at 47 Avenue A. (The top two photos are courtesy of owner Muhammad Aslam's family).
EVG contributor Stacie Joy stopped by on Friday...
The family is hopeful that the reconstruction process can start this week in the retail space of the Ageloff Towers between Third Street and Fourth Street.  

Unfortunately, we're told that the Essex Card Shop's insurance hardly covers anything — roughly $18,000, which is less than the cost of one of the store's copy machines. Meanwhile, the building's insurance will only cover certain parts of the reconstruction. 

The New York Times reported that the estimated loss was around $300,000; that the "aisles and its basement were bulging with inventory."

To date, supporters of the business have helped it raise nearly $90,000 in a GoFundMe campaign

Muhammad Aslam continues to express his gratitude for the outpouring of support from the community — residents and businesses alike...
A two-alarm fire destroyed the shop on Jan. 10. Authorities later charged a 13-year-old boy with second-degree arson.

Tribute-filled façade of former Basquiat studio painted over on Great Jones

The façade at 57 Great Jones St. was painted over this past week, wiping out the layers of artwork — some of which paid tribute to one-time resident Jean-Michel Basquiat.
In December 2020, artist-photographer Adrian Wilson (under his now-retired @plannedalism moniker) painted "Let Us Spray" here between the Bowery and Lafayette where Basquiat lived and worked at the time of his death in 1988 at age 27.

The two-story building, once owned by Andy Warhol, now houses Bohemian, an upscale Japanese restaurant ... their curbside dining space included a message by Al Diaz, who, as a teen in the late 1970s, collaborated with Basquiat on a series of cryptic messages seen around the city signed from SAMO©. (The curbside structure's message was covered as well.)

It's not known at the moment who had this painted over. Perhaps there are plans for a new mural? Bohemian didn't respond to a request for comment.

In the fall of 2018, Wilson helped curate the Same Old Gallery, an exhibit that featured Diaz's work. The two also collaborated on a mural here to mark the 30th anniversary of Basquiat's death in August 2018.

In July 2016, the Greenwich Village Society of Historical Preservation (now Village Preservation) unveiled a commemorative plaque outside the building. (The plaque is now splattered with paint — it doesn't appear as if workers covered it.)

One tag remains below the plaque... likely added after the whiteout...

Here's a better view of the exterior from last year... thank you to @catscoffeecreativity for sharing this photo...

A reader shared this photo of the big paint over, which took place the previous weekend...

Joey Bats opening a shipping outpost on Houston Street

Photos by Stacie Joy

Signage is up for a Joey Bats outpost on East Houston Street between Clinton and Attorney.

Owner Joey Batista (aka Bats) told us that this will be the HQ for his online business. (The company sells natas across the United States via Goldbelly.)
He said he'll also host some pop-up events here as well as promote his two neighborhood locations — 129 Allen St. and, soon, 50 Avenue B.

As for the Joey Bats Café slated for B between Third Street and Fourth Street, he's waiting for all the necessary paperwork to process before opening.

Batista, the son of Portuguese immigrants, started selling pastéis de nata at street fairs around New York in 2016 before opening a location on the LES.

Citizens of the neighborhood prepare to say hello to this new bank branch

Photos by Steven

The HSBC-Citizens Bank switcheroo officially happens today on the SW corner of Second Avenue and Ninth Street...
Not sure what kind of festivities will take place to mark the occasion. (Do banks still give away toasters? If not, then they should.)

As previously reported on EVG, HSBC agreed last spring to sell 80 of its 148 U.S. branches to Providence, R.I.-based Citizens Bank. 

Monday, February 21, 2022

EVG Etc.: A memorial fund for Christina Yuna Lee; the future of outdoor dining

Photo from Avenue A on Saturday morning 

• The Ukrainian community in the East Village reacts to the ongoing Russian-Ukraine crisis (NBC 4 ... Our Town ... The Village Sun

• The family of 35-year-old Christina Yuna Lee, who was stabbed to death in her Chrystie Street apartment on Feb. 13, have launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to go to causes that were important to her (GoFundMe

• The debate over combining P.S. 19 and East Village Community School (Daily News

• Safety concerns at Sara D. Roosevelt Park (NY1

• Looking at the "suspiciously sourced goods" on sale along the sidewalk markets on First Avenue at 14th Street (The Post

• Mayor Adams' first preliminary budget would lower Department of Homeless Services spending from around $2.8 billion to $2.15 billion in the 2023 fiscal year, due mainly to the loss of about $500 million in COVID-related federal funding allocated to the agency (City & State) ... and the mayor's composting cuts (Streetsblog

• The future of outdoor dining in NYC (Gothamist

• Man arrested for allegedly stabbing a breakdancer on the L train at 14th Street and Third Avenue (ABC 7

• A feature on Shenarri Freeman, the chef at Cadence on Seventh Street (Vogue

• Nuyorican Poets Café names an interim exective director (The Lo-Down

• 9-story building coming to this space on Chrystie between Stanton and Rivington (NYY

• A chopped cheese hunt on the LES (Eater

• Amelia and Christo are ready for spring in Tompkins Square Park (Laura Goggin Photography

• Musical Mondays at the Village East (Official site)

A Neighborhood Loading Zone for this block of 9th Street

Photos by Steven

On Saturday, the Department of Transportation (DOT) added a Neighborhood Loading Zone on the north side of Ninth Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue...
From 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, these spaces are reserved for activities such as:

• Package deliveries by commercial vehicles 
• Taxi and car service pick-up and drop-off 
• Active loading and unloading of personal vehicles
The program "aims to reduce double parking on narrow residential streets by providing space at the curb," per the DOT website

As Streetsblog recently reported, the DOT "is now required by law to install at least 500 loading zones annually to mitigate the boom in deliveries." 

Last summer, the city added loading zones on several sidestreets as part of the new Avenue C bike lanes

You can suggest a Neighborhood Loading Zone online here.

So long to the Union Square Walgreens

Seeing this one through... the Walgreens on the SE corner of 14th Street and Fourth Avenue is now permanently closed (as of Thursday) ...
The sizeable retail imprint includes a second level that reaches 13th Street...
Despite what the New York Post wants you to believe with its crime-chaos narratives, drug stores aren't closing because of shoplifting. This piece from Curbed last week explains what has been going on, including pandemic-related supply-chain issues and losses due to online competition.

Per the article: Walgreens says that when it closes stores, its reasoning is rooted in "the dynamics of the local market and the changing buying habits of our customers."

Walgreens customers can now go to the Walgreens-owned Duane Reade 50 steps away at 1 Union Square.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Week in Grieview

Posts this past week included (with a photo from Tompkins Square Park by Derek Berg) ... 

• RIP Al Landess (Saturday)

• The 1980s East Village as seen through the lens of photographer Peter Bennett (Friday

• Uncle Johnny is closing on Avenue D (Wednesday

• A Taco Bell is coming back to 3rd Avenue for the first time in 15 years (or so) (Monday

• Another rally to return the former P.S. 64 to the community (Tuesday

• A Gallery Watch Q&A with Faith Icecold (Saturday

• Eileen Fisher makes 9th Street closure official (Thursday

• A for-rent sign at Verameat on 9th (Thursday

• 9th and C looks to be home to the second coming of former LES cantina La Flaca (Wednesday

• City removes abandoned curbside dining structure on Avenue A and 6th Street (Thursday

• For-rent signs arrive on these 2 storefronts on 14th Street and Avenue A (Monday

• 2 new Citi Bike docking stations for Avenue A (Saturday

• Former Red Square art hauled away (Wednesday

• Looker has closed on Avenue B (Friday) • Some happy campers on 10th Street now as NYPD relocates RV (Wednesday)

• Measure what you eat at DM Restaurant (Thursday

• Momofuku Noodle Bar closes for a month-long renovation (Tuesday

• The window displays at Blue Door Video (Monday

• A look at a few of the applicants to appear before CB3's SLA committee this month (Wednesday)

... and several people have pointed out this apparition that has been up here on Second Street between Avenue A and First Avenue for awhile now ...

Follow EVG on Instagram or Twitter for more frequent updates and pics.